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date: 30 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The goal of this chapter is to provide an overview of the emerging body of research aimed at examining the use and perception of African American English (AAE) by middle class speakers. While many scholars have pointed out that AAE falls on a continuum of social dialect features that reflect a speaker’s socioeconomic status, among other factors, the use of AAE by middle class speakers has often been overlooked in favor of the idealized, vernacular speech patterns of working class African Americans and urban African American male youth. Yet, an emerging body of research provides evidence that the use of AAE by middle class speakers is rich and dynamic, reflecting the complex social, economic, and professional domains that shape middle class African American life and linguistic behavior. Finally, we reflect on linguistic definitions of the AAE continuum vis-à-vis middle class speakers.

Keywords: African American English (AAE), class, middle and working, socioeconomic status, vernacular, AAE continuum

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